Newsroom

Jay and Barbara Kessler: "The Rainmakers"
Jun 22 2006 - 10:06am

Congratulations to Charlottesville Regional Board member Jay Kessler and his wife Barbara. The two were named this week to the "C-Ville 20"--a list of the top 20 movers and shakers in the Central Virginia area. Hailed as "the Rainmakers," Jay and Barbara were recognized for their tireless efforts as co-chairs of the capital campaign to raise money for Piedmont Virginia Community College.

From the article: "All told, the Kesslers helped raise $11.3 million for the school.
Earlier this year, the feat earned them statewide recognition from the
Virginia Community College System, which honored the couple with one of
its inaugural Chancellor’s Awards for Leadership in Philanthropy. They
earned the Medallion Award from PVCC itself, which recognizes
extraordinary service to the college and is given by the president and
college board. The money will be used for a new science building, for
improvements to existing facilities, and for funding more scholarships."

Click here to read the full text of the article.

Congratulations Jay and Barbara, and thank you both for all you do!

Block Comments in the RTD
Jun 22 2006 - 9:44am

Andy Block of Charlottesville, a member of the Political Leaders Program Class of 2006, was quoted in a recent Richmond Times-Dispatch article regarding graduation rates in Virginia.

Click here to read the article.

Political Leaders 2006 Profile: Conaway Haskins
Jun 22 2006 - 9:38am

Name: Conaway Bernard Haskins III
Age: 29
Born: I was born in Farmville and grew up in Lunenburg County, Virginia
Current Digs: I live in Chesterfield County, and I work in Petersburg.
Occupation: Program Officer with The Cameron Foundation, a philanthropic grantmaker serving the Petersburg region.
Favorite part about the job: Interacting with dedicated and passionate nonprofit, community, and government leaders.
First job ever? Cashier at the Hardee’s in South Hill.
Favorite book? Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Favorite movie? “A River Runs Through It”
Must See TV?  The Daily Show
Comfort food? Peach cobbler, blackberry cobbler…actually anything named “cobbler.” Basically, I’m addicted to Ukrop’s.
What's in your car CD player right now?  David Sedaris’ CD series, “Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim.”
Next journey? Paris
One thing people might be surprised to learn about you? I was classically-trained as a pianist.
Last gift you received?  Portable XM Satellite Radio player
Best advice you ever got?  Just be yourself. Having people respect you is more important than having them like you. 
Whom do you admire and why?  I really admire my maternal grandmother because despite all of the unpleasant things that happen in life, she always manages to find the silver lining in situations and discover something redeeming in everyone that she knows. Plus, she’s the sweetest, classiest lady I’ve ever known.
If you could have dinner with any one currently living, whom would it be and why? I’d love to have dinner with Doug Wilder. Very few Virginians truly understand that he has been part of four historic Virginia elections. In addition to his notable statewide wins as Lt. Governor and then Governor, he was the first black state Senator since Reconstruction and the first elected mayor of any race in the modern history of Virginia’s capital city. Despite the controversy that sometimes surrounds him, from both an electoral and policy perspective, Doug Wilder is arguably the greatest politician in the history of modern Virginia and one of the best of all-time. He demonstrated that the Commonwealth indeed had room for African Americans at the table of public leadership, and his life and career motivated me to pursue my own path in politics and public service.
Ambition, political or otherwise? For now, my goal is to evolve as a writer into a more noteworthy voice among Virginia’s political commentators and policy analysts. Being a pundit seems like a lot of fun. Personally, I want to lose 30 pounds and approach running a 9-minute mile.   
Describe a perfect day. For me, a perfect day would be spent traveling with my wife through Virginia’s great wine country sampling the latest offerings from the various wineries and touring the vineyards and wine-production facilities. Of course, I’d definitely watch my level of consumption as to not end up meeting some of Virginia’s finest state and local law enforcement officers up close and personal!


Note: Conaway is the author of an article regarding public schools published this week in the Richmond Style Weekly.
Click here to read the article.

Thank You, Beth Davis
Jun 21 2006 - 11:44am

The board members, alumni, and staff at the Sorensen Institute would like to express our deepest sympathies to the family of Elizabeth Davis, who recently lost her battle against Hodgkin's disease.

A graduate of the Political Leaders Program Class of Fall 1994, Beth had been a determined and sincere advocate for quality public education in Virginia ever since she started as a kindergarten teacher in Pulaski County in 1973. We can all be proud of the work and creativity she lent the efforts to improve our schools. The Commonwealth was fortunate to have her. She will be missed. Thank you, Beth.

Click here to read a recent article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch about Beth's life.

New College in Martinsville
Jun 21 2006 - 11:18am

Governor Tim Kaine recently announced that he signed legislation creating the New College Institute in Martinsville. The Sorensen Institute is proud to report that Governor Kaine also appointed two of our folks to the New College Board of Directors: Elizabeth Haskell, a member of our Southside Regional Board, and Kimble Reynolds, a graduate of the Political Leaders Program Class of 1997.

Click here to read a recent Roanoke Times article about the New College
.

Running in the 6th
Jun 21 2006 - 11:05am

Barbara Pryor of Amherst, a graduate of the first Political Leaders Program class (Spring 2004) recently announced that she will run as an Independent against Republican incumbent Bob Goodlatte in the Sixth U.S. Congressional District.

Click here to read coverage of this race.

Pryor joins two other Independents who will stand against the Congressman. Goodlatte will face no Democratic challenger for the fourth  straight election.

 

Running in Manassass
Jun 21 2006 - 10:56am

Jeanette Rishell of Manassass, a graduate of the Candidate Training Program Class of 2006, is the new Democratic nominee for the 50th seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. Click here to read coverage of the recent primary.

Rishell is running against Republican nominee and Manassass City Council member Jackson Miller. The election will be held on November 7.

Blog Summit Recap Links
Jun 21 2006 - 9:46am

We are proud to report that a variety of bloggers who attended the Sorensen Blog Summit this past weekend in Charlottesville have posted numerous positive comments on their blogs regarding their experiences. We are thrilled that many people enjoyed and learned much from the conference.

The National Journal's Danny Glover, who spoke at the Summit, has a number of links to coverage of the event on his blog, Beltway Blogroll.

Danny also has a post on the Washington Post's Micheal Shear with the text of his comments at the Summit.
Click here to read the text of Michael's comments.
Click here for a podcast of his complete remarks.

Danny also has a recent post worth reading regarding blogging and journalism: "When the history of the online media revolution is written, 2006
should merit special mention as a turning point for the blogosphere.
This is the year, for better or for worse, when bloggers earned their
first official media stripes."

Semi Truths is also putting together a carnival of blog posts regarding the Summit. Check it out.

Thanks again to everyone who made this year's Blog Summit a great success! The Sorensen Institute was very proud to be involved.

(Photos from the Blog Summit will be posted here in the next few days!)

2006 College Leaders Program: Day 24
Jun 21 2006 - 9:35am

College Leaders Program Class of 2006
Blog Update: Day 24--June 19
Reported by:  Shonda Copeland of Norfolk State University

Shonda Copeland

   
I woke up this morning and anxiously scratched another day off the
calendar. The count down has officially begun! There are 5 more days
until “Political Boot Camp”, better known as the College Leaders
Program, is over!  Classes started at 9am sharp were we learned
how to be ‘Thoughtful Citizens’ by Dr. Tom Shields. A professor at the
University of Richmond, he has the ability to captivate his audience by
implementing humor and interesting statements that make you think. We
broke for lunch, and then it was back to business as usual.
   
Bob McDonnell, the Attorney General for Virginia, stopped by to speak
with us about the work he does for the Commonwealth. He also discussed
in detail some of the legislation that he has supported. He very boldly
weathered the storm of questions that were fired at him by the class.
He is a man to be admired and watched for the remainder of his term. I
am looking forward to the advances Virginia will make because of his
leadership abilities.
    In addition to the
excitement we had already experienced, Mr. Coy Barefoot of the Sorensen
Institue, better known as the man with all the energy, came in to
interview the culminating project groups for radio. This was part of
the “Media Training” lens here in the final days of the program. There
was a great deal of tension in the room as we all waited nervously for
our turns to be called. All of the groups did an excellent job. 
Coy explained the good, the bad, and the ugly when it came to our
project explanations.
    Our Media Training
continued next with Cathy Harding, the editor of the C-Ville Weekly
newspaper. She directed us through the process of creating an “OpEd.”
She left a lasting impression on our group. Her thought for the day
was, “Small writing has the ability to speak to larger topics.”
   
Tonight was a night out on the town, for all who chose to attend. I
decided against it because I found the evenings’ events to be a bit
racially insensitive. We were going to Monticello to hear Mr. David
Brooks deliver a speech. I am sure he would have been a dynamic
speaker; however, the feelings that accompany a visit to a “plantation”
are life altering. Monticello is more to an African American then
merely the home of the third president; it is a place where “slave
holding” was practiced.
    I accepted the
invitation to be a member of the College Leaders Program under the
pretext that I would learn how to appreciate the viewpoints of others.
The quote “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” comes
to mind. We are all taught to love on another, but that is not how
everyone in the world operates. To attend the event at Monticello would
be blatant disrespect to those who fought for my ability to be viewed
as a person instead of property. I believe that “The Father of
Conservatism” said it best in a passage that he wrote entitled Society, Reverence, and the “True Natural Aristocracy.”  I quote,

“We
are generally men of untaught feelings; that instead if casting away
all our old prejudices, we cherish them to a very considerable degree,
and, to take more shame to ourselves we cherish them because they are
prejudices; and the longer they have lasted, and the more generally
they have prevailed, the more we cherish them.”

   
I believe that this program is the perfect place for all people of
different political views and backgrounds to come and be accepted—as
long as we all promise to leave all prejudices, stereotypes, and
preconceived notions at home.
    I am certain that I
could have enjoyed myself at Monticello; however, the troublesome
history surrounding Thomas Jefferson and his thoughts on equality have
unnerved me. Jefferson's words and deeds are contradictory on the issue
of slavery. Jefferson wrote, "We have the wolf by the ear, and we can
neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and
self-preservation in the other." This in and of itself is reason enough
not to have attended this outing. Politics would be an outstanding
institution if all men and woman were created equal.

--Shonda Copeland, Norfolk State University

Sorensen Staff Update
Jun 21 2006 - 9:35am

Congratulations to the Sorensen Institute's Amber Capron who was recently promoted to the position of Events Planner and Development Coordinator!

Amber's promotion leaves an open spot on the Sorensen team. We are currently accepting applications for a new Administrative Assistant. Click here to see the job posting.

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Featured Alumni

  • Doug Smith.jpg

    Doug Smith

    Political Leaders Program

    Class of 2005

    Doug serves as the Executive Director of the Center for the Constitution at James Madison's Montpelier. He is the former Executive Director the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, based in Richmond.